French Place is a quiet urban neighborhood, with modest-scaled houses, many beautiful gardens, and walkable proximity to some of Austin’s favorite local restaurants. Our clients, James & Leah, bought this 1960 house several years ago with the aim to downsize from the family’s 3100 sf house in Great Hills to a more manageable, conveniently located modern home for their ’empty nest’ years.
We met with James and Leah about a year before they planned to start construction (the project was completed as Rick & Cindy Black Architects) to begin the design process. Some important ideas quickly emerged: the desire to create a connection to the street and neighbors, plenty of space to cultivate the garden, and a more modern, cool palette that would still fit in with the surrounding context.
While the footprint of the main house was maintained, we reconfigured much of the interior space, built a new workshop to store garden tools and other equipment, added on with a porch and outdoor kitchen facing the backyard. A galvalume work surface and pair of grills are integrated into the porch structure, with a brick base to complement the front walls of the house. James’ Big Green Egg definitely takes center stage, along with the stainless gas grill. Custom cedar cabinets provide storage for grilling tools and charcoal.
Back inside, the kitchen, dining and living encompass one large space with a clean flat ceiling. This gives enough breathing room for the visiting family members, but doesn’t feel too huge for the every day life of two people. We minimized the size of the trim, and painted the room just one shade of a cool white to keep the space visually calm. The CB2 Firefly pendant and the Hampton wall sconce add sparkle and interest.
The back wall of the kitchen features a Bertazzoni range and vent hood, with a glass subway tile backsplash, and walnut open shelves.
The kitchen takes a U-shape, with the sink facing out to the back yard and workshop building, and a long peninsula facing the dining and living space. An open shelf at the end of the peninsula is a great place for cookbooks. Insulator pendants from Railroadware hang over the peninsula.
We loved this Kohler Prologue sink with the single bowl and big drainboard. The straining basket is so useful, too!
A spice shelf is integrated into the refrigerator surround, convenient to the cooking and prep near the range. Facing toward the front street is a counter-height desk space with bar sink and wine refrigerator – a nice perch for a morning cup of coffee or a little wine later on.
The pantry is tucked behind one of the redwood lined walls that divided the main space. The redwood was actually sourced from our friend’s house – our contractor, Texas Construction, offered this option as they were about to remove the wood from the other project. Perfect timing! We love reusing materials wherever possible, and this batch even avoided the typical shipping costs. We refinished the walls with a couple layers of white wood stain.
It was so great to see James and Leah move in and everything fit into place! We measured the furniture that would come with them to make sure it would fit, and they purchased a few new items to complete the space. We loved how everything came together, feeling like a comfortable family house and chic urban cottage in one.
We give credit to all the wonderful folks who contributed to the project:
General Contractor: Texas Construction
Appliances: Kiva Kitchen & Bath
Cabinets: Tim Cuddy
Concrete Countertops: Newbold Stone & Concrete
Limestone Countertops: Architectural Tile & Stone
Wood Flooring: Hardwood Designs
Landscape: K+D Designs
Photography: Whit Preston